THE BLOG
03/20/2014 08:58 am ET | Updated May 20, 2014

10 Happy Ways to Celebrate the International Day of Happiness

2014-03-19-IMG_0420.jpg

The International Day of Happiness is celebrated throughout the world on 20 March. It was established by the United Nations General Assembly in 2012. Here are 10 ideas for celebrating happiness in ways that will make you happier by doing them.

1. Be kind to yourself:
"If you want others to be happy, practice compassion. If you want to be happy, practice compassion."Dalai Lama. Being kind rather than critical towards yourself boosts happiness more than anything else I know. If you do one thing today, do this. Wish yourself well. Treat yourself as kindly as you would a small child.

2. Be grateful:
Gratitude is one of life's most vitalising ingredients. Research has shown that practicing gratitude can have dramatic and lasting effects in a person's life. This can be accepting anther person's kindness, appreciating nature, or recognising the gifts in one's own life. Beyond these benefits, it feels good in its own right to appreciate that we have been "the beneficiary of freely and generously bestowed kindness." In my course "Six weeks to a happier you," we have just finished the session on gratitude and the most popular homework assignment was the pleasure walk. More ideas for experiencing the happiness effect of gratitude can be found in my previous post on an Aussie Thanksgiving experiment.

3. Be curious:
Ben Dean Ph.D., tells us that "Curious people have an ongoing, intrinsic interest in both their inner experience and the world around them. Curious people tend to be attracted to new people, new things, and new experiences, and they are rarely bored. Everyone possesses curiosity to some degree." It is the antidote to judging ourselves and others and opens us up to everyday sources of happiness.

4. Take in the good:
One of my favorite practices from Rick Hanson. Make good facts become experiences by noticing them, savoring them for 15 to 30 seconds and really letting them sink in to your body. That way your brain and body really registers that happy moment and you override the brains tendency to be velcro for bad experiences and teflon for good.

5. Connect with someone:
Drop your agenda and really tune in to that person. Listen with your whole body. Notice how happy and energised you can feel to share a moment of understanding and ease really connecting with another person ands savour the warmth, respect and goodwill.

6. Read Love 2.0: Really. It will change how you see your opportunities for happiness and connection with others. It will really help with the suggestion above too!

7. Laugh:
We know laughter feels good, so find the joy in life today. Its good to know that the science backs us up and that humour is intimately related to quality of life. Even smiling will usually make you feel happier.

8. Breathe:
Just breathing slowly in and out, slower out than in, for two minutes can reduce your stress and bring on a physiological relaxation response regardless of what your head is caught up in. Its portable stress management that works. And you are more likely to notice happy things around you after breathing this way. Give it a go.

9. Do one thing at a time:
I have written before about the madness of multitasking. And yet it is so seductive in our busy lives to try to do a few things at once. But research has shown that we are far less happy when we do. Even boring tasks are more enjoyable if we focus on them rather than let our mind wander.

10. Sleep:
So when you have celebrated international day in all these ways, have a good night's sleep. According to the American Psychological Association, more than 35 percent of Americans get less sleep than they need. A good nights sleep improves memory, increases people's ability to concentrate, strengthens the immune system and decreases people's risk of being killed in accidents. Mindful breathing for a few minutes before sleep can really help and more good ideas can be found here. Happy International Day of Happiness to you all.